Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)


156th GENERAL SYNOD MINUTES, JUNE 16, 1978, pp. 44.

REPORT OF THE STUDY COMMITTEE ON RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY OF RULING ELDERS.

The Rev. John P. Clark presented the following report:

Fathers and Brethren:

The 152nd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, in response to an overture (Overture H) sent by the Delmarva Presbytery, appointed a committee to study the scriptural teachings concerning the spiritual responsibility and authority for the ruling elder within the context of the oversight, preaching and administration of sacraments in the local church. At the request of the Clerk of Synod, this committee was restructured following the 155th General Synod and instructed to present a report to the 156th General Synod.

I. Introduction.

The request for study was made in response to (a) the concerns of the session of the Stony Point Reformed Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Va., about the parity of the elders and the implications for the polity of the local church and (b) the concerns of the Study Committee on Gifts for Ordination (as reported to the 152nd General Synod) about ministers who are not serving within the context of the collective leadership and the implications for the polity of the presbytery. It seems that both concerns request further definition of the office of elder and the differentiation and relationship of the minister/teaching elder and the ruling elder.

Your committee is presenting to the synod a study prepared by George W. Knight, III, Covenant Seminary, and A Brief for Church Governors in Church Government by Edmund P. Clowney, together with appendices. The Report of the Ad Interim Committee to Study the Question of the Number of Offices in the Church presented to the 1975 General Assembly of the PCA is also recommended.

While your committee has submitted the requested study, it is apparent that if the Church concurs that the study presents the Biblical perspective concerning the elder, the implications for the polity of our Church are significant.

II. Scriptural Teaching

A. Studies by Dr. George W. Knight, III, and Dr. Edmund P. Clowney.

(1) "Two Offices (Elders/Bishops, and Deacons) and Two Orders of Elders (Preaching/Teaching Elders, and Ruling Elders): A New Testament Study", by Dr. George W. Knight, III
(2) A Brief for Church Governors in Church Government, by Dr. Edmund P. Clowney

III. Recommendations

A. The committee recommends that synod distribute this report to all sessions for study and response to the committee chairman by October 31, 1978.

B. The committee recommends that it be continued to study the responses from churches and to develop a list of proposals to be submitted to the 157th Synod.

Harold Burkhart, Chairman
John P. Clark
Richard W. Gray
Robert Heerdt
Rudolph Schmidt